Oh, hey, summer! How are you? Again, I’m pretty happy to see you. We have lots of good plans for you and I’m so excited to get started.
Oh, hey, summer! How are you? Again, I’m pretty happy to see you. We have lots of good plans for you and I’m so excited to get started.
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood. This book was hard to put down, but also hard to read. It was an amazing story that was touching and moving and heartbreaking. It is told from different points of view, which, I’m learning, is a writing style that I find really interesting. It did bother me, though, how some of the chapters were in first person, while some were in third. I figured that the more important characters, who were living the story, were telling it in first person, while the characters who were more on the outside had a third person narrative. But that wasn’t even true for all the chapters. The story is about Wavy, who is a tragic little girl whose life has been difficult, at best. I love child narrators and stories about children, and this book was no different. At times, I felt so uncomfortable rooting for the love story because it was so such an unconventional love story. My book club mostly agreed that this was a really good, well-liked book, that we would each have a hard time recommending to people because it made us feel uncomfortable. But, I would totally recommend it to people. If that makes sense at all.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. I read this book after seeing Evynne’s Contemporary American Songbook show at the Shedd. She did a few songs from the show that is based on this graphic novel. I don’t read many graphic novels, so it was fun to do something a little different. It is a beautifully written and drawn memoir about the author’s family – most specifically her father, who was gay and killed himself. It is honest and dark and funny and I really enjoyed it. Now I really want to see Fun Home performed.
Wishing Day By Lauren Myracle. This is a really great story about a girl in a special town. It’s a young adult novel that is part of a trilogy. Natasha lives in Willow Hill, where every girl, when they turn 13, gets to make three wishes – The first wish is an impossible wish. The second is a wish she can make come true herself. And the third is the deepest wish of her secret heart. Natasha is a typical 13 year old girl, but she lives in a world with magic and wishes that can come true. There is a good mystery and the characters are fun and likeable. The only thing I don’t like is something that I don’t like in a lot of young adult series these days – they just leave off on a cliffhanger. I mean, I get that it’s fun to leave things open that need to be solved throughout the series, but I like some sense of closure. JK Rowling did this really well in her series – even though we knew there were bigger issues that weren’t resolved, she closed up each book and left us with a satisfying ending. Wishing Day almost seemed like a long introduction to the series – a lot of exposition of the setting and backstory. That being said, I look forward to reading the other books when they come out, so I’m not that mad about it.
Are You My Mother? By Alison Bechdel. This is a follow-up to Fun Home, but more about Alison’s mother this time. It actually was more of a meta-book that was about how Alison and her mother connected throughout the writing of Fun Home. It also goes into how Alison has dealt with her life through an in-depth study of psychoanalysis. It actually brought up a lot of information and questions about how we raise children, and how the way we were raised as affected us as adults. The narrative wasn’t as engaging as Fun Home, but the psychology was interesting to learn, and having it presented as a graphic novel certainly made the details easier to read and understand.
Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This is my second time reading this one. I read it with my book club a couple years ago and really enjoyed it (maybe ‘enjoyed’ is the wrong word). I thought it was fascinating and I love this genre – the dystopian/ post-apocalyptic thing. This book is particularly interesting because the future isn’t too distant. I mean, Offred remembers a culture that is very similar to ours now and everything changes to the hyper-religious, hyper-patriarchal culture of Gilead within a couple years. It’s fascinating, and more terrifying to think of things changing so quickly. Obviously this book is well-written and well crafted, considering it is written by Atwood. It’s beautiful and haunting and disturbing. This time through, I was really struck by the fact that it doesn’t follow a typical narrative arch. I mean, when you think about it, nothing really happens and nothing is ever really resolved. This doesn’t sound like a glowing review, but literarily, it is really successful and really fascinating.
reading Angelfall by Susan Ee.
listening to Dear, Evan Hansen on repeat.
getting things in order for our summer.
planning our days.
wishing it were already summer.
feeling big nostalgic feelings.
watching Alma in her last few days of preschool.
thinking about big confusing things.
wanting it all to be more clear.
trying to keep my cool.
moving onward and upward.
building fun things.
quilting fun quilts.
watching dumb shows.
wasting too much time.
Rooms by Lauren Oliver. This was a ghost story, but a really good one. Creepy at times, though that wasn’t the main point as far as I could tell. It is more of an exploration of a family. There are a couple ghosts that live within a house, or they are the house, and they witness everything that happens when a family comes to pack up the house. It was clever and the characters were interesting.
Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci. This was a really good young adult novel about a girl who is looking for her place and her people. This is a well-written and simple story. It is a coming of age story, but it is unique and creative. I liked it.
Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer. As many people know, Foer wrote my very favorite book of all time, so I was very anxious for this book to come out. It wasn’t as good as Extremely Loud and Incredible Close, but it was a very good book. It is about a family on the verge of collapse, but also about the world on the verge of collapse. There were parts when I laughed out loud, and parts where I cried, and parts where I was just really confused about why I was reading it (if you’ve read it, you probably know that chapter I’m talking about). All in all, I’d say I liked this book a lot. It was hard to get through, but worth it.
Fly on the wall by E. Lockhart. Another young adult novel about a girl who is looking for her place and her people. She wishes to become a fly on the wall of the boy’s locker room, and her wish comes true. Obviously an homage to Kafka, this modern story is pretty good. Katya is a likeable, creative girl and her exploits are realistic and funny.
Big Little Lie by Laine Moriarty. I read this because I was watching the HBO show and it wasn’t going fast enough. I just couldn’t wait to know what happened and who died and who did it! This is such a good mystery book. The characters are all really interesting and the plot is so very creative. It starts with someone dying at a school fundraiser, but you don’t find out who did it or even who died until the very end. It is a difficult book because it tackles some difficult subjects. But it’s a story of women and strength and relationships. I really liked it. Both the book and the show.
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. This is the first book in The Mortal Instruments series – a fantasy series for young adults. I actually really liked the book and found it compelling. Clary is the protagonist and she’s pretty cool, but it isn’t really the girl-power story that it could be. Maybe that comes in the later books. It’s mysterious and clever, but the dialog wasn’t super believeable. I started the second book, but couldn’t get into it. I think maybe I needed to take some time off before starting it.
Last week, I had drinks with a fellow blogger – Hannah – and we got on the topic of blogging, obviously. I mentioned that I haven’t been feeling very creative lately, on the blog and off. I have quilts that are mostly done, but they’re just sitting there. I have ideas that are forming and formed in my mind, but they’re just sitting there. I have loads of fabric and two girls who need new clothes, but they’re just sitting there (the fabric, not the girls. The girls don’t sit still).
Then, today, Facebook reminded me of a post I wrote two years ago. There is a part that stood out. Mostly because it was so shockingly true to how I’m feeling now, two years later, to the day:
…there will come a time that I’m not inspired and I don’t feel like I have anything to post. And the blog is quiet. And (I know this sounds precious) my soul is quiet. It isn’t that the work of the blog gets overwhelming, it’s more that I’m just not taking the time to create. When I’m making things, and cooking things, and growing things, I am inspired. I’m inspired to write and share on the blog. Those are the times that I feel the best and the happiest.
Wow, past Carolyn, you sure hit the nail on the head with that one.
I feel the best when I’m taking the time to create. I feel the best when I’m taking ideas and using them to create actual, tangible things. I feel the best when I’m taking the time to sit down and write.
Right now, our garden is sprouting and I’m going to take that as a sign that my creativity needs to sprout right along with it.
My to-do list is long, but at least I finally wrote it all down.
starting All the Ugly and Wonderful Things just as soon as I pick it up from the library.
training to be a runner.
completing week two of the Couch to 5k program this week.
wondering how I’ll keep up with the training when the grass pollen hits.
blowing my nose already.
listening to my Couch to 5k playlist on Spotify, even when I’m not running.
looking at all the beautiful springtime things.
noticing how late everything is to bloom this year.
feeling very uninspired to finish all my sewing projects.
trying to push myself to finish the two quilts I have started.
feeling good about the connections I’m making with people.
oiling all day everyday.
finding new ways to use my oils.
benefiting so much more than I thought I would.
planning a big blog push for May.
working with a good friend on some collaborations.
Today you’re five. Today is one of those thresholds. You are entering a whole new stage of life. Five is a big year. Five is kindergarten, loose teeth, reading, school buses, bikes with pedals, new friends, long days away from home, writing. Five is big.
Yesterday you were four and you were still a small little child. Today you are five and you look like a whole new girl to me. I have to be honest and say that my heart hurts a little bit when I look at you. You are a well-spoken, creative, brave soul. Not much of that little baby from five years ago remains. Your legs are long and strong. Your fingers are precise and careful. Your eyes are clear and focused. Your voice is loud and determined. You are five.
You are growing up quickly and it makes me miss my baby. But, Alma, I wouldn’t change it for anything. Those baby days are gone, but I’m so happy about five. I’m so excited to see all those things happen this year, but you will always be my baby.
My wishes for you this year:
Alma, my little love, have fun being five.
All my love,
The day after Thanksgiving is my favorite day because everyone catches up and starts getting ready for Christmas! Overnight it becomes socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music, and it’s okay to deck the halls with Christmas cheer. Finally.
This year we went to Northern Lights again. We made the trek with Jesse’s folks this year. We found a perfectly lovely Fraser Fir that was tall, and sparse, and green.
Jesse, with some help and encouragement from the girls and his dad, cut down our tree. It has a much thicker trunk than our past trees, and Jesse had to work quite hard to fall it.
I love this rainy, muddy, sunny, chilly annual adventure. I figure that since we live in the place where most the Christmas trees are grown, it’s worth it to go to the source and get the freshest of the fresh.
Because, just look at the sweet memories we are creating.
Back home we got the tree all decorated. When we were done, there was a pretty solid ring of ornaments right at Harriet and Alma height.
And adding the star to the top is a family affair. I love the magic of this moment, every single year.
We also got to visit Santa after church on Sunday. I seriously love this Santa (except that this year, he told the kids he’s just a helper… I was fully committed to teaching our kids that he was the real deal, but, whatever…).
I think this was the first year both girls have happily gone right up to him and jumped into his lap.
We went, of course, with Rory and Poppy. Poppy was a little unsure about the whole deal.
We wrote our letter to Santa and put it in the mailbox. Then a talking tree – Doug Fir – came up and made us all a little uncomfortable.
But, hey! It’s Christmas time! It’s Advent! Let’s be jolly!
One thing that Evynne Hollens does very well is inspire. She is such a positive person, and I appreciate how she puts out so much love and light into the world. When she does covers, she chooses songs that are uplifting, empowering, and inspiring. Her next cover is no different.
If you’ve been following her, you know that she’s been on a princess kick for a while. In fact, she’s releasing a new CD of her covers of the princess songs (and a new CD of her other covers) very soon! I think this all started – or at least sped up – when she released her Evolution of the Disney Princess video on YouTube. It has over 10 million views (WHAT?!).
I don’t want to spoil what song she’s covering this time, but I will say that she came up with the perfect idea for the video. In the video, we’ll get to see her as a few of the princesses, along with smaller versions! The song is perfect for a bunch of four year old princesses – with their energy, silliness, sass, playfulness, and imaginations.
I helped Evynne organize a group of seven little princesses to all go to her house and film the video. It was like a bomb of adorable exploded in the Hollens’ studio. I mean, really. Look at this little Princess Parade, heading into the studio:
It was so fun to be a part of the filming. Both Evynne and Merlin, her talented cameraman (and sometimes drummer), were so wonderful with the kids. They gave amazing directions and really seemed to be enjoying the hilariousness of directing seven 3-5 year-olds.
Ashland definitely got in on the direction. Or maybe he was the lighting tech. I’m not sure, but he was there and he was super helpful!
Each of the princesses got a chance to be in front of the camera. Alma went first because that’s the way she is. She is certainly my daughter, that is obvious. While the other girls were, perhaps, a little unsure of what to do, Alma just jumped right in and started hamming it up for the camera. No stage fright here.
Harriet, on the other hand, was a bit more reserved (which is hilarious since she was Elsa, the most fierce of all the princesses!). She was also the youngest. She sort of just sat there, or stood there, and shook her head. I’m interested to see what Merlin got from her, and how Evynne will edit it. But, just look at those boots peeking out of her Elsa dress. That’s so Harriet.
It was really interesting to be there, in the studio, where the Hollens film many of their videos. It all felt so exciting – the lights, the background, the music, the energy. The kids had a great time cheering each other on and playing around.
One of the highlights of the day was when Evynne would transform into various princesses. The girls would sneak up the stairs to try to catch of glimpse of Evynne as the princesses. I’m fairly convinced that the moment she came downstairs in costume each time, the girls thought it was the actual princess. They called her by the princess name, and an awed hush went over them. ‘Ariel’s’ mom even said to me, “Why did I pay so much money to meet the Princesses at Disneyland when I could have just come over to Evynne’s house?” So, Evynne, if this whole YouTube business doesn’t pan out, you have a future in doing Princess Parties! Ha!
I’m excited for this epic show-down between the pink and blue Sleeping Beauty dresses. Actually, they were very civil, but it got a bit tense there for a second.
One of my favorite moments of the day was when Merlin was telling the girls and their families the plan, and it was chaos. Everyone was playing with Ash’s toys and there were little brothers running around. Alma was so overcome with her enthusiasm that she just ran up to Merlin and gave him a big hug, despite the fact that she barely even knew him.
We all had such a fun time working on this video with Ev and Merlin! Thanks to Olivia, Elizabeth Grace, Eibhlin, Marie, Hailey, Harriet, and Alma – all the little princesses – for helping out! Thanks to Evynne Hollens and Merlin for including us! I’m sure the whole squad of little princesses will remember this day for a long, long time.
Here’s October. It’s taken a while to get this uploaded.